Established in 1907 in the US, lnternational Women’s Day (IWD) is now a global observance in over 100 countries. Undoubtedly, celebrations on the day that applauds the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women vary, depending on which part of the world you’re in. Some countries, like Armenia, Cuba, Russia and Zambia, have made IWD an official holiday, with women receiving flowers and gifts from their partners. In other spots, women take it as an opportunity to demand real policy change; some are even ready to make a point by refusing to work, demonstrating how women impact the economy.
A Day Without A Woman March, The United States
This year’s campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange. With the World Economic Forum predicting the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186, the call is for a better working world and a more gender inclusive world. There are thousands of 8 March events, from marches, conferences and awards, to the lighter happenings like exhibitions, festivals, fun runs and concerts. Here are some of them taking place around the world:
The United States: Some women in America will be staging a strike known as “A Day Without A Woman.” The day is promoted as a protest and encourages gender equity. Seeing what happened when millions of women stood together on January 21 during the Women’s March on Washington, the same activists are organising the general strike. The walk out opens debatable questions like whether or not businesses are supporting female communities and striving for gender equity.
England: On 5 March, there was a peaceful march in London, with thousands marching across the capital. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the city’s first Muslim mayor, spoke out, encouraging men to “join the fight” for gender equality. Singer and activist Annie Lennox joined by speaking out about the issues women face globally. Plus, women are wearing red on 8 March to welcome the day, with demonstrations planned outside parliament and the National Gallery to protest gender bias in the art world. There will also be a Women of the World festival at Southbank Centre between from 10-12 March.
Women of the World Festival, England
Italy: Women are entitled to free entry to all the museums and cultural sites around the country. The cultural hubs will be honouring women by holding exhibitions that "celebrate the feminine world" and highlights art by and about women. The official Instagram account for Italian museums is posting art by women of all walks of life, whether “goddesses and commoners, intellectuals and artists, actresses and martyrs, writers and poets.”
Japan: The Spotlight on Japan 2017 event sees a panel of five thought-provoking speakers bringing awareness about gender equality in Japan. Hosted by Mums in Business Tokyo and The Peninsula Tokyo, the 7 March inspiring, fun and interactive affair shines the spotlight on Japan, celebrating achievements, best habits, small triumphs and innovations. The event includes stories and advice from Spotlight Ambassadors, who are trailblazers in their fields.
Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk, Brazil
Brazil: People living in Florianopolis will be joining in the Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk, one of the 134 walks taking place in 60 different countries around the globe on 11 March. The attendees hope to connect women leaders and spark a global movement. Mentors and mentees will share challenges and solutions, subsequently enabling them to build supportive bonds that foster leadership.
Dubai: The Emirates Airline Literature Festival has organised a special IWD panel to discuss this year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, on 11 March in Al Ras 3, InterContinental. A diverse panel of authors, Candy Gourlay, Jo Malone, Kei Miller and Noura Al-Noman, will share their personal and professional stories and delve into what can be done to inspire women, achieve gender equality and create positive change. The three inspiring women have made changes in their countries, while the male participant has stood up for equality time and again.
A significant step in Saudi Arabia: For the first time ever, Saudi Arabia celebrated its own Women’s Day In February. The three-day women’s only gathering marking the contributions of women to multiple fields was held at Riyadh’s King Fahd Cultural Centre. Speakers touched on women’s rights to drive and called for an end to the country's male guardianship system. Members of the royal family attended the event, with Princess Al-Jawhara bint Fahd Al-Saud hosting a talk on women’s roles in education.